24 FEBRUARY 2009
UN-ESCWA Executive Secretary Bader Omar AlDafa considered today that the Regional Commission region suffers from a variety of pressures that endanger the sustainability of its water resources. UN-ESCWA has therefore set the management of water resources at the top of its work priority and works to implement several projects to strengthen the good and sustainable management of these resources. AlDafa made these remarks in the first session of the Ministerial Forum on Water that the G77 and China are holding in Oman on 23-25 February 2009.
The forum, whose current session is headed by Sudan, is attended by ministers concerned with water resources, who are part of delegations representing member countries in the over 130-member group. It aims at exchanging scientific and technical expertise among member counties to disseminate information on water resources, improve and strengthen communication among the group, and establish knowledge transfer mechanisms to governments and decision makers on the local and international levels. The forum also seeks to develop the fields of desalination, sanitation and others that could support water resources.
In this context, AlDafa noted that UN-ESCWA was the leading UN agency in the Arab region for the regional coordination mechanism and the thematic working group on climate change. It contributes to several mechanisms that were established to strengthen cooperation among countries in the field of water resources in the Arab region such as the Arab Water Council (AWC), the Arab Ministerial Council on Water Resources and others.
The Executive Secretary added that to strengthen cooperation in the field of water supply and sanitation (WSS), the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA) was established to promote South-South cooperation to improve the performance of these countries in WSS. On the other hand, UN-ESCWA hosts the Arab Integrated Water Resources Management Network (AWARENET), which was established in 2002 as an independent regional network of training and research institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), government authorities and experts in the field of water. AWARENET has national chapters in different Arab countries, he said.
AlDafa had initiated yesterday a-three day official visit to the Sultanate of Oman, and met with Minister of Economy and Deputy Chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council, Ahmad Abdel Nabi Makki. Discussions extended to a tour d’horizon of UN-ESCWA activities and ways to develop them in the Sultanate. AlDafa listened to Makki’s detailed explanation of the government efforts in sustainable human resources development, the Sultanate’s success stories in and how to spread them out throughout the region. Parties also spoke of conducting training sessions to empower Omani youth and encourage its enrolment in the United Nations system.
On the sidelines of the Water Forum, AlDafa also met with Iraqi Minister for Water Resources, Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid who extended to him an invitation to visit Iraq. Both officials discussed cooperation between UN-ESCWA and Iraq.